Paul Friend Hypnotherapy
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EATING DISORDERS

Background


Eating disorders can affect anyone and are extremely common, affecting millions of people each year.  The main characteristic of an eating disorder is the individual’s obsession with their weight.  These obsessive thoughts can lead to severe consequences in both their health and their actions.  Research has shown that females are much more likely to develop anorexia and bulimia than males, although males can suffer from both eating disorders too.  However this is not the case with binge-eating disorder, which seems to develop in almost as many males as females.


Anorexia Nervosa


Anorexia affects approximately 60,000 to 200,000 people, and it’s estimated that 1% of people aged between 10 and 20 suffer from anorexia each year.  The condition can be characterised by an obsession with weight loss resulting in refusal to eat or irregularity in eating patterns.  Sufferers become obsessive about eating rituals and develop an unusual way of eating, e.g. skipping meals and avoiding certain food, selecting a small variety of foods and only eating them in very small quantities.  This is all usually done secretly.


Symptoms



Long term side effects



Bulimia Nervosa


Approximately 4% of people aged 16 to 25 suffer from bulimia.  Like anorexia, bulimia is a serious psychological eating disorder that can be life threatening if left untreated.  Bulimia nervosa can be characterised by the constant fear of putting on weight and the use of unnatural ways to get rid of the food (e.g. forced vomiting, taking laxatives or excessive exercise).  An individual suffering with bulimia will usually binge eat (often comfort foods with high levels of sugar and calories) and then feel guilty enough to force themselves to get rid of the food.  Some individuals will force themselves to get rid of the food even if they haven’t had a binge, but feel they have eaten more than they should have.  As many sufferers are deeply ashamed of their behaviour, they almost always relieve themselves by forced vomiting in secret.


Symptoms



Long term side effects



Binge-Eating Disorder


Although binge-eating disorder is not as well known as anorexia or bulimia, it still affects millions of people around the world and research suggests it affects about 2% of all adults.  Binge-eating disorder is characterised by eating large amounts of food and being unable to control the habit.  Unlike bulimia, individuals suffering from this disorder do not vomit or use laxatives to relieve themselves, and are therefore very likely to gain weight.  Many sufferers eat secretly and then feel guilty and shameful about what they are doing, and often don’t seek help for this reason.


Symptoms



Long term side effects



Causes


Unfortunately research has not yet been able to identify a definite cause of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.  However it is thought that a combination of factors can lead to the development of eating disorders:



Treatment


Like any disorder, the longer an individual suffers with it, the worse it usually becomes. Those with eating disorders are likely to hide their problem from others and often find it difficult to recognise that they have a problem that requires help.  The first step is therefore to recognise the problem.  Counselling and psychotherapy are often methods used to help deal with the psychological effects of eating disorders, and sometimes medication is prescribed (such as anti-depressants) to help the individual.  The physical side of eating disorders also needs to be dealt with by professionals.


Hypnotherapy can also be used to help individuals suffering from eating disorders.  Hypnosis is used to identify the root cause of the problem so that the emotional aspect can be dealt with.  Negative behaviour patterns can be looked at and more positive habits can be learnt.  Hypnotherapy can help to improve self confidence and self image so that the individual is able to view themselves differently.



This content is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional advice.